Europe

Activists: IS seizes new ground in eastern Syria

  • Syrian chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari, Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to the UN, speaks to the media during a press conference after a round of Syrian peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

    Syrian chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari, Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to the UN, speaks to the media during a press conference after a round of Syrian peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Syrian chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari, Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to the UN, speaks to the media during a press conference after a round of Syrian peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

    Syrian chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari, Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to the UN, speaks to the media during a press conference after a round of Syrian peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Syrian chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari, Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to the UN, right, speaks to the media during a press conference after a round of Syrian peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)

    Syrian chief negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari, Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to the UN, right, speaks to the media during a press conference after a round of Syrian peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Activists and a media outlet associated with militants say the Islamic State group has seized control of a government-controlled neighborhood in Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria, expanding its presence in the province.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Wednesday the group's militants clashed heavily overnight with government troops and allied forces, advancing in the city's industrial district. The Observatory says five airstrikes hit the neighborhood, but there were no immediate word of casualties or who was behind the strikes.

The IS-linked Aamaq news agency said IS has expelled government troops from the district. The militant group now edges closer to a much-coveted military air base.

IS lost control to the government of the city of Palmyra, but has also repelled attacks from other rebel groups in the north.